Excellence is almost always mentioned when talking about local church worship ministry. We talk about striving for it, leading worship services that are excellent and often even equate excellence with growth.
But when we really dig down, excellence is nice, but there are some things it can’t be.
Excellence is not a fruit of the spirit. It can’t replace our love for people. In fact, one of the few times the word excellent is mentioned in the Bible is about love (1 Cor. 13). Another time it’s about the things a person should think about (Phil 4:8). It can’t be our driving force and at the same time line up with God’s heart for the lost and broken. If we are striving for excellence that overshadows love for people, we’re on a downward spiral.
Excellence is not a good indicator of success. When our gifts and passions align and God uses it to produce fruit, it often comes off looking and truly being excellent. However when we use it as a marker to compare, we lose some valuable perspective. What if a leader overcomes all odds to pull together a new church in a struggling part of the world and though it’s growing wildly in numbers, faith and enthusiasm, their worship team is all kids, with medium level of ability and a couple of pieces of used sound equipment? On the flip side, another church may invest 2.2 million in their stage and production and though it’s as excellent as it can be on that front, there is a bit of a consumeristic attitude about worship and discipleship. Of course, production is valued as it is able to reach this culture, but that sort of indicator of excellence alone isn’t a good one.
Excellence is not a mission. Excellence may be a cultural desire, a strategy, a trait, a value, or a style, but it can’t be the mission. The mission of the church is clear and it revolves around Jesus as the center, his spirit leading and his church reaching and discipling a world of people who need to hear the good news. Most often, the mission itself is messy, difficult and we’re often going on faith.
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So where does excellence fit in? Don’t we want to work hard? Don’t we want to align our teams well for maximum impact and growth? Don’t we want to be effective? Don’t we want the music to be pleasing to God and to others? What should our priority be?
- Worship God first and foremost and use our gifts to invite others to worship God too.
- Build up the church – which means building up the people in the church to use their gifts to serve.
- Do your best with your God-given gifts to lead, serve, train, equip, teach and mobilize.
- And pray! If you want to be excellent in something, be a church worship team that becomes excellent in faithful and consistent prayer.
You can attached the value of excellence to the things you do in life… but don’t alone make excellence the goal.
The main goal of the worship team is to lead others in worship, authentically, genuinely, and passionately. Help them sing. Encourage the gifts. Bring people in. Focus on Jesus. Strive and work hard. Do your best. But when excellence is the supreme goal….you will miss the mark.